The whole ministry of Jesus was one of service. He came not to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45). He found this theme in the Old Testament, particularly in Isaiah 40-55. There, three themes predominate: obedience (Isaiah 44:1), witness (Isaiah 43:12) and endurance (Isaiah 43:1-6). Israel failed these tests. How do you make out on them?
This was the pattern of leadership Jesus adopted: service, not status. He told his followers to do the same (John 13:12-17; Mark 10:43-44; Luke 22:24-27). Every Christian is called to serve. Every Christian has a ministry. It is impossible to be a Christian without becoming a minister of Christ. Don’t use the word “minister” only for clergy and missionaries. It includes you!
There are three main words for “servant” in the New Testament, and all three are applied to every Christian.
The first means “slave” (1 Peter 2:16; Revelation 1:1). It describes the total surrender of every part of our lives —home, work, love life, ambitions, and everything else — to Jesus, who gave all that he had for us. Ponder Romans 12:1-2 and 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. In ancient society the slave had no rights but was totally at the command of his master. The New Testament writers chose this word slave to describe their relationship with Jesus. How does it fit you?
The second means “worship leader” (the word from which we get liturgy). It speaks of our worship (Acts 13:2). Worship is a big word. It includes our giving (2 Corinthians 9:12), our faith (Philippians 2:17), the proper doing of our jobs (Romans 13:6), even evangelism (Romans 15:16). How important is worship to you? What does it cost you? Does it spill over into telling others about your Lord? If not, it will grow stale.
The third means “helper”; our word deacon is derived from it. It is widely used of practical help of all kinds. It describes our relationship with fellow Christians and with those who as yet are not (2 Corinthians 4:5). Prison visiting and personal service (Philemon 13; Acts 19:22), handing out soup, and preaching are all called by this word, service (Acts 6:1, 4). We should not separate the sacred from the secular; everything belongs to God.
“This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ” (1 Corinthians 4:1). Ask yourself how faith has made a difference in your life, wholeheartedness, worship and practical service.
Verse to learn
Learn Romans 12:1: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God —this is your spiritual act of worship.”
Bible study section
The Bible passage for study is Acts 5:40 - 6:8.
- What motivated these people to want to serve the Lord? How about you?
- How many forms of service are mentioned here?
- Are the “spiritual” jobs more important than the practical ones?
- What spiritual qualifications were necessary for those who wanted to serve lunches? Apply this to your church or group.
- How was it that the disciples “multiplied” in Jerusalem?
- What service are you now engaged in which you would not be if you were not a Christian?
- What new area of fellowship and service is each of you going to commit yourself to now that this short course has ended? Be specific!
Members of the group should share with one another the areas in which they feel themselves called to serve Christ (see question 7 above) and pray for one another as they move from this group to new areas of fellowship and service.
David Watson, Discipleship.
Biographies such as Charles Colson’s Born Again.
This entire series has been adapted from Michael Green, Evangelism Through the Local Church (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1992.)